The Arsonist (Vintage Contemporaries)
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After fifteen years working in East Africa, Frankie Rowley returns to the New Hampshire village where her family has always spent their summers. But the tranquility she’s expecting proves short lived when, on the very night she arrives, a mysterious arsonist begins targeting the homes of other summer residents. As this seemingly idyllic community becomes increasingly on edge, Frankie also has to deal with her father’s declining health—and begins a passionate affair with the editor of a local paper that will yield its own remarkable risks and revelations. Suspenseful, sophisticated, and finely wrought, The Arsonist is an artfully nuanced and deeply emotional novel about a family and a community tested, about how and where one ought to live, and about what it means to lead a fulfilling life.
the senior Rowleys’ barn the night of the fire there. Oh, come on, Adrian said when Bud asked him about it. It was cotton balls and Vaseline. All the search guys carried cotton balls with Vaseline when they were going out looking for someone, in case they needed to start a fire in tough conditions. Half the volunteers probably had such materials. “Sure. In their packs,” Loren said. “Not fifteen or twenty laying around on the floor of their car.” And so it went. It was interesting, in some ways
Relief Action or with another NGO.” “New York!” Liz said. “But that’s so expensive.” Frankie lifted her hands: What can I do? “You’ll end up in an incredibly small apartment in some marginal neighborhood,” Liz said. “Which sounds kind of romantic, actually,” Frankie said. “That’ll wear off quickly,” Sylvia said drily. She turned to the others. “Frankie had a house to herself in Nairobi. She had servants.” Sylvia had visited her once for a week and stayed in Frankie’s house. It was set in a
crowd. “It’d be nice to think I had that much power,” he said. “But you do! It’s the power of the press.” He smiled at her. He waved to several others who’d raised their hands here and there in greeting to him—Emily Gilroy, Charley March, Shelley Edmonds. As he did, he was conscious of thinking how at home he was here, aware of taking a certain pride in it—Look how many friends I have—and then quickly feeling a bit foolish on account of that. He stopped to talk for a moment to Harlan Early,
dear,” she said. Her daughter’s pale eyes met her own again. “I know,” Frankie answered. 14 AN AUGUST HEAT WAVE. Even at night it didn’t cool down, though that might have been partly because the sloped roof above Bud’s bedroom wasn’t insulated. He’d been awake several times, once because he heard something and thought immediately of the arsonist, though he realized, after he’d gone outside and walked around the house, that it was just a raccoon trying to get into the garbage can—it was tipped
Pete came in and woke him up, he said nothing to Bud about this unprecedented event, and Bud told him nothing. He told him nothing, either, of the state he found his house in when he went home that evening, which had shocked him: books and papers strewn about, the bed ripped up, clothes lifted from the bureau and thrown onto the floor. And he told him nothing of the threats that ensued, the broken window one night. But by the middle of the third month, when Bud had taken a different woman out to